Studies frequently point to caseload and workload as factors influencing worker turnover and retention. High caseloads and excessive workload make it difficult for child welfare workers to serve families effectively, which leads to increased staff turnover as well as decreases in quality delivery of services. Child welfare workers need to be able to spend enough time with the children and families on their caseloads in order to develop an appropriate case plan and achieve positive outcomes. Ensuring a manageable caseload and workload for staff requires agencies to determine the suitable number and types of cases, assigning cases appropriately, and adjusting as needed. Manageable caseloads and workloads can make a difference in a worker's ability to engage families, deliver quality services, stay with the agency, and ultimately achieve positive outcomes for children and families. On this page, find resources on the role of caseload and workload in workforce retention and child welfare outcomes, including State and local examples.
Council on Accreditation (COA)
Presents standards, including those for caseload and workload, that must be met for human services agencies to become COA accredited. Find standards by choosing “Private” or “Public” under the “Standards” menu along the top of the webpage and clicking on “View the Standards” on the right side of the page.
Effective Workload Management (PDF - 706 KB)
National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (2020)
Summarizes a study on workload perceptions of caseworkers and presents an analysis of caseload and workload needs and recommendations for improved workload management.
How Can Child Welfare Leaders Safely Decrease Investigation Backlogs?
Casey Family Programs (2020)
Provides examples of contributing factors to case backlogs and presents strategies to approach and sustain backlog reductions. The resource includes real-life examples of how agencies across the country have successfully worked through their backlogs.
Recent Research to Build Knowledge of the Child Welfare Workforce
Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (2019)
Provides information about child welfare worker turnover and highlights strategies to address it.
Research Summary: Caseload Standards & Weighting Methodologies (PDF - 2,272 KB)
San Diego University School of Social Work, Academy for Professional Excellence
Examines the effects of high caseloads on child welfare workers and offers considerations for developing caseload standards and measurements to help child welfare administrators and supervisors make informed caseload and workload decisions.
Provides an analytics tool that offers real-time reports and performance metrics for staff that can help prioritize and proactively manage their workloads.
Webinar: Turnover. . . Turnaround: Creative Solutions for Child Welfare Agencies to Overcome Social Worker Turnover and Build the Capacity They Need [Video]
American Public Human Services Association (2022)
Discusses how the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic have forced many social workers to reassess their careers, causing higher turnover. Child welfare leaders describe causes of this crisis and how they addressed issues including high caseloads and workloads to strengthen retention of staff.
Workforce Metrics Using Child Welfare Data
Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (2021)
Reviews child welfare workforce metrics, including caseload and workload, which can help inform case assignments, address the work burden experienced by staff, and influence staffing decisions.
State and local examples
Arizona Department of Child Safety Caseworker Caseload Standards (PDF - 1,751 KB)
Arizona Office of the Auditor General
Presents information on caseworker caseload standards in Arizona. This report reviews strategies used to manage caseloads and workloads and describes the State’s plan to use a workload-based approach.
Child Protective Investigator and Child Protective Investigator Supervisor Educational Qualifications, Turnover, Professional Advancement, and Working Conditions Status Report (PDF - 1,851 KB)
Florida Department of Children and Families (2022)
Outlines average child protective investigator caseloads in Florida and describes how workload and caseload are related to retention and overall job satisfaction.
Child Welfare Workload Model: Report to the Legislature (PDF - 1,015 KB)
Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (2020)
Summarizes trends in workload for caseworkers in Washington State and explains how caseload is managed.
Generally Applicable Caseload Standards: Guidelines for Conservatorship (CVS) (PDF - 270 KB)
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (2020)
Offers recommendations and guidelines to support the achievement of conservatorship caseload standards in Texas. The report highlights future planning for staffing resources, supervisor-level management of caseload assignments, assigning cases, addressing caseload size issues, and more.
How Does New Jersey Maintain a Stable Child Welfare Workforce?
Casey Family Programs (2022)
Examines workforce policies put into place in New Jersey to increase worker retention, including the Worker2Worker program, which is designed to support staff in managing workload and caseload. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the State also implemented impact teams to assist with conducting in-person case activities so that caseworkers who were unable to meet in person could have their caseloads covered.
Louisiana Progress Update - Redesigning the Child Welfare Worker Position
Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (2020)
Describes a job redesign project in Louisiana working to restructure child welfare worker teams to better handle caseloads. Findings have shown caseworkers have less job-related stress and better morale.
Oregon Department of Human Services Workload Report (PDF - 374 KB)
Oregon Department of Human Services (2021)
Presents a report to the Oregon State Legislature on child welfare workload and caseload and offers a detailed description of efficiencies that have been achieved. The report addresses impacts on workload and caseload, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the State's Family First Prevention Services Plan, staffing increases, and more.
Pinnacle Plan Measures Semi-Annual Summary Report (PDF - 7,573 KB)
Oklahoma Department of Human Services (2022)
Presents a semiannual report that includes assessments of worker caseloads and supervisor caseloads beginning on page 117. The report also includes an analysis of workforce conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and how the pandemic influenced caseload and workload management.
South Carolina Department of Social Services Plan for Attainment of Child Welfare Caseload Limits (PDF - 662 KB)
South Carolina Department of Social Services (2019)
Outlines an implementation plan for South Carolina that addresses workload limits for child welfare caseworkers in order to achieve a stable, sufficient, and high-quality frontline workforce.
What Has Been New York's Experience With Casework Teaming?
Casey Family Programs (2021)
Explains how casework teaming has been used by the New York State Office of Children and Family Services to help child welfare workers reduce caseload and workload and strengthen staff retention.